Emmett Louis Till (July 25, 1941 – August 28, 1955) was an African-American teenager who was lynched in Mississippi in 1955 at the age of 14. The brutality of his murder and the fact that his killers were acquitted drew attention to the long history of violent persecution of African Americans in the United States. Till posthumously became an icon of the Civil Rights Movement.
Till was born and raised in Chicago and was visiting relatives in Money, a small town in the Mississippi Delta region. He spoke to 21-year-old Carolyn Bryant, the married proprietor of a small grocery store there. Several nights later, Bryant's husband Roy and his half-brother J. W. Milam were armed when they went to Till's great-uncle's house and abducted the boy. They took him away and beat and mutilated him before shooting him in the head and sinking his body in the Tallahatchie River. Three days later, Till's body was discovered and retrieved from the river.
Till's body was returned to Chicago. His mother, who had mostly raised him, insisted on a public funeral service with an open casket to show the world the brutality of the killing. "The open-coffin funeral held by Mamie Till Bradley exposed the world to more than her son Emmett Till's bloated, mutilated body. Her decision focused attention not only on American racism and the barbarism of lynching but also on the limitations and vulnerabilities of American democracy". Tens of thousands attended his funeral or viewed his open casket, and images of his mutilated body were published in black-oriented magazines and newspapers, rallying popular black support and white sympathy across the U.S. Intense scrutiny was brought to bear on the lack of black civil rights in Mississippi, with newspapers around the country critical of the state. Although initially local newspapers and law enforcement officials decried the violence against Till and called for justice, they responded to national criticism by defending Mississippians, which was transformed into temporary support for the killers.
In September 1955, Bryant and Milam were acquitted by an all-white jury of Till's kidnapping and murder. Protected against double jeopardy, the two men publicly admitted in an early 1956 interview with Look magazine that they had killed Till. In 2004 the case was officially reopened by the United States Department of Justice. The defense team in the 1955 trial had questioned whether the body was that of Till. In 2004, Till's body was exhumed and positively identified. Till's original casket was then donated to the Smithsonian Institution and it is displayed in the National Museum of African American History and Culture. After Milam and Bryant were acquitted, they initially remained in Mississippi, but were boycotted, threatened, attacked and humiliated by local residents. Milam died in 1980 at the age of 61, and Bryant died in 1994 at the age of 63. Bryant expressed no remorse for his crime and stated: "Emmett Till is dead. I don't know why he just can't stay dead."
The trial of Bryant and Milam received extensive press coverage. Till's murder was seen as a catalyst for the next phase of the Civil Rights Movement. In December 1955, the Montgomery Bus Boycott began in Alabama and lasted more than a year, gaining a US Supreme Court ruling that segregated buses were unconstitutional. In a 2008 interview, first made public in 2017, Carolyn Bryant disclosed that she had fabricated her testimony that Till had made verbal or physical advances towards her.
According to historians, events surrounding Emmett Till's life and death continue to resonate. Some writers have suggested that almost every story about Mississippi returns to Till, or the Delta region in which he died, in "some spiritual, homing way." An Emmett Till Memorial Commission was established in the early 21st century. The Sumner County Courthouse was restored and includes the Emmett Till Interpretive Center. The Emmett Till Memory Project is a website and smartphone app commemorating his life; fifty-one sites in the Mississippi Delta are associated with Till....LESS
PITTSBURGH (AP) — The artist of a painting depicting the fatal shooting of Tamir Rice has withdrawn the piece from a Pittsburgh arts festival after an outcry that the white artist was exploiting black pain.
Emmett Till: The Murder That Shocked the World and Propelled the Civil Rights Movement offers the first truly comprehensive account of the 1955 murder and its aftermath. It tells the story of Emmett Till, the fourteen-year-old African American boy from Chicago brutally lynched for a harmless flirtation at a country store in the Mississippi Delta. Anderson utilizes documents that had never been available to previous researchers, such as the trial transcript, long-hidden depositions by key players in the case, and interviews given by Carolyn Bryant to the FBI in 2004 (her first in fifty years), as well as other recently revealed FBI documents. Anderson also interviewed family members of the accused killers, most of whom agreed to talk for the first time, as well as several journalists who covered the murder trial in 1955.
Till's death and the acquittal of his killers by an all-white jury set off a firestorm of protests that reverberated all over the world and spurred on the civil rights movement. Like no other event in modern history, the death of Emmett Till provoked people all over the United States to seek social change. Anderson's exhaustively researched book is also the basis for HBO's mini-series produced by Jay-Z, Will Smith, Casey Affleck, Aaron Kaplan, James Lassiter, Jay Brown, Ty Ty Smith, John P. Middleton, Rosanna Grace, David B. Clark, and Alex Foster, which is currently in active development.
For six decades the Till story has continued to haunt the South as the lingering injustice of Till's murder and the aftermath altered many lives. Fifty years after the murder, renewed interest in the case led the Justice Department to open an investigation into identifying and possibly prosecuting accomplices of the two men originally tried. Between 2004 and 2005, the Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted the first real probe into the killing and turned up important information that had been lost for decades. Anderson covers the events that led up to this probe in great detail, as well as the investigation itself.
This book will stand as the definitive work on Emmett Till for years to come. Incorporating much new information, the book demonstrates how the Emmett Till murder exemplifies the Jim Crow South at its nadir. The author accessed a wealth of new evidence. Anderson made a dozen trips to Mississippi and Chicago over a ten-year period to conduct research and interview witnesses and reporters who covered the trial. In Emmett Till Anderson corrects the historical record and presents this critical saga in its entirety.
I met Dr. Clenora Hudson-Weems in D. C. at the National Ford Annual Conference in 1987. She was one of the plenary speakers, rendering a most eloquent and engaging slide presentation on her groundbreaking thesis of Till as catalyst of the civil rights movement. It was astounding; I remember it as though it were yesterday. Clenora s work resonates with me to this day. At that moment, she resurrected and established Till as the beginning of the Movement. Later, shortly before completing the Ph.D. in May 1988, she began communicating with Emmett s mother, Mamie Till Mobley and encouraging her to seek justice for her son s brutal murder. Thus anyone who lays claim to exhuming the Till saga before Dr. Hudson-Weems demands to be questioned. - Dr. William Turner, Vice Pres; Assoc. Provost, U. of KY It is the responsibility of all writers to cite the research and writings of those who come before them. In a world where credit is often given to mediocrity, we can ill afford to ignore the work of the scholars who pave the way for us to craft story. Hudson-Weems Till writings are clearly the first full length studies to establish the lynching of this martyr as the true catalyst for the Modern Civil Rights Movement. Hence, anyone writing after her on this subject has the responsibility to not only know the source but to cite her work as well. To not do this or to claim ignorance of her work is an obvious sign of fraud, inferior research, or arrogance. - Evelyn Coleman, Award-Winning Author of What a Woman s Gotta Do For nearly 20 years, Hudson-Weems was the lone voice calling for a fresh assessment of the true historical significance of the murder of Emmett Till. That voice has lately been joined by a host of others, but there is disharmony in the choir. The de facto failure to credit, let alone acknowledge, both her pioneering work and her rightful place as the preeminent Till scholar is more than intellectual theft; it is personal grand larceny. The truth needs to get out that the real authority about Emmett s story is Clenora. When someone s dedicated his or her life, and mined the subject as much as Clenora has, her name needs to be connected with what she s done. Further, my own effort to assist Clenora in realizing her dream of producing a motion picture based on her research and vision of racial healing through redemption has also been compromised by this sudden rash of Till experts. Modern day pirates beware; legions stand between you and your greed. With the support of her many friends, colleagues, and true believers, Dr. Hudson-Weems unique voice will not be lost in the present cacophony, nor will her impersonators go unchallenged. - Barry Morrow, Oscar Award-Winning Co-Writer for Rain Man; Producer"
"The Death of Emmett Till", also known as "The Ballad of Emmett Till", is a song by American musician and Nobel Laureate Bob Dylan about the murder of Emmett Till. Till, a 14-year-old African American, was killed on August 28, 1955, by two white men, reportedly after flirting with a white woman. In the song's lyrics, Dylan recounts the murder and trial.
One bootlegged performance, which was recorded from Cynthia Gooding's radio show called Folksinger's Choice sometime in early 1962, starts with Dylan saying that the melody is based on chords he heard from folk musician Len Chandler. The melody is quite similar to "The House of the Rising Sun" from the album Bob Dylan. Dylan's performance of the song was released on the 1972 album Broadside Ballads, Vol. 6: Broadside Reunion, under the artist name Blind Boy Grunt. Another recording, taped as a demo for music publisher M. Witmark & Sons and also bootlegged for many years, was released on The Bootleg Series Vol. 9 – The Witmark Demos: 1962–1964 in October 2010.